Although self-esteem and self confidence are often associated with one another, even the most confident people can struggle with their self-esteem.
Those who present themselves well, are lively in groups and have no trouble standing up in front of hundreds of people can still fear failure and doubt their abilities. Don’t assume that just because they appear confident that they don’t battle with this issue too. Even celebrities, who have no trouble appearing confident to the world, can have low self-esteem that makes them turn to addiction.
Because self-esteem is an issue a lot of people face every day, we want to help you stress less and have more faith in your own self-worth.
The difference between self-esteem and self-confidence
Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between lack of self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. Whereas self-confidence is about one’s trust in their ability to be successful in life and what they do, self-esteem revolves around how we value and perceive ourselves. Commonly, people with low self-esteem may feel:
- that they hate themselves or that others hate them.
- guilty for doing anything nice for themselves.
- they have nothing to offer.
- that things are always their fault.
- that they don’t deserve happiness.
- they are worthless.
If you ever feel any of these things (I’m guilty of a few myself to be honest), then there’s loads of things you can do to diminish these thoughts and help you value yourself the way you deserve to be valued. Not only is this important for your state of mind, and your ability to maintain successful relationships in both work and life, but in many cases, low self-esteem can start to affect your physical health too. People often experience exhaustion and headaches when dealing with low self-esteem.
Here are a few ways you can improve your self-esteem:
Pinpoint what triggers your low-self esteem
Knowing what triggers these feelings is an effective way to tackle the issue. For example, I know that when brainstorming at work I feel reluctant to provide ideas because I doubt whether they are worth sharing, and I fear being embarrassed by people not liking them.
Being aware of this it gives me the encouragement to speak up more, despite worrying about the potential outcome, which helps me overcome such anxieties. Usually on reflecting the contributions I’ve made, any feelings of doubt I had were just in my head and I feel stronger and more positive for overcoming them. In fact, I’ve found in this particular example that contributions are usually met with positive, constructive feedback (no idea is a bad idea), and that helps me have more faith every time a brainstorming session comes round.
On the other side of this, in order to help others with low self-esteem, it’s important to remember that situations like this trigger self-doubt, so feedback in this way is vital to ensure everybody feels appreciated and safe at work.
Give yourself a compliment every day
Staring into the bathroom mirror after brushing your teeth and telling yourself out loud how strong you and valuable you are will have a positive effect on your self-esteem.
To help even more, it would be beneficial to list the things about yourself that make you feel unworthy or guilty and specify that you’re good at these things to yourself. For example, if you worry about people thinking you’re a bad friend, tell yourself you’re a good friend over and over again before starting your day. And if you need more convincing, focus on a recent time you helped a friend to back up your positive thinking.
It may sound like a simple suggestion that may not appear effective, but a lot of the time these types of thoughts can be improved with positive thinking. It’s not something that’ll likely change for you overnight but if you tell yourself you’re worthy every day, you will begin to feel that way soon.
Surround yourself with people who love you
In instances where you are your own worst enemy, as is the case when addressing our self-esteem, one of the best ways to help you feel better about yourself is to be around people who love you and don’t share your doubts.
In any case it’s good to just be around other people so that you can push your worries to the back of your mind, as obsessing over what makes you feel bad about yourself can only make you feel worse.
When you’re having a particularly bad time, or something has happened recently to trigger a specific negative feeling, it will be worth talking to someone you love about how you’re feeling. Doing so will allow them to challenge your negative thoughts and give you the self-esteem boost you won’t necessarily get from ignoring the feeling.
Set yourself challenges
Give yourself little goals and aims that are relatively easy to achieve to help give yourself a boost. It could be implementing more exercise, which of course offers it’s own mental health benefits, for example. Just be sure that you make your goals realistic to achieve and above all keep it flexible and be sure to celebrate the small wins. These small accomplishments will allow you to believe you can achieve much bigger objectives and therefore boost your self-esteem a little bit every day.
Seek help when you are struggling to help yourself
Sometimes, no matter the advice people offer, or how much you try to help yourself, it isn’t enough. And there’s no shame in that. If this is the case, there are many places you can go for a helping hand:
- Peer support: Sometimes it can be really helpful to speak to others going through something similar. The mental health charity Mind, run peer support meetings and it may be beneficial to explore one of these.
- Telephone support: If talking to people face to face is too much for you, or you’d rather speak to people who are trained to help, the Samaritans are just a phone call away.
- The NHS: The NHS has many different counselling opportunities that can help you through whatever thoughts you’re struggling with.
Know you’re never alone in these thoughts, almost everyone experiences some lapse in self-esteem at some point in their lives. If you feel like it is impacting you day to day, it will be beneficial to discuss this with your GP.